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Walter and I were ready. The swell was big even by Hawaiian standards. Then the sentence came. "Whatever you do, don't hesitate at the top of the wave or your cooked."
Let me translate this for you. It means don't let fear get in the way. What Walter was saying, certainly from experience, is that as you paddle for one of these moving football fields, no two exactly the same, there will come the moment where you have to apply all the force your body can muster to create enough downward pitch in your board to start the drop into this gigantic moving wall of water, and if you hesitate you will get hung up at the very top of the wave, but just for a moment because in the next instant you will become one with the lip of the wave and get pitched into God's thin air. Enjoy the ride because at some point you will, with the accelerating force of gravity, come in contact with cement hard water at the bottom of the wave just in time for what will feel like a Mac truck crushing down on top of you turning your useless body into a rag doll that will have absolutely no control of its destiny for what will seem like an eternity. Okay so have fun.
Walter easily slipped into the first elevator drop that came our way. The next one was mine. All those Ironman championships must count for something, right? Only if I don't hesitate!
I was positioned perfectly. The second wave of the set was coming right to me. I turned toward shore and started to paddle. Up I rose as the first two-thirds of the monster passed underneath me. The lip was next. I had to get forward speed down the face before the lip pitched. And then...
I hesitated! FEAR.
The world stopped. Walter's words were like a shell going off in my head. "Don't Hesitate." In my races I never hesitated. Regardless of how impossible something seemed I still went for it. I never, ever gave up for one second. Fear was there, but it was always background noise. Yet, there I was, a legendary moment was unfolding and I was hesitating. I had good reason to! It was the biggest, fastest moving mountain of water I had ever encountered, and Walter was gone. There was no one to help me if I needed it. Only me, the wave and my fear.
Fear rides high, but only if we let it. If I hesitated a nanosecond longer two things would happen. Either I would miss the wave of my life as it passed underneath me, or I would have my personal Niagara Falls barrel ride without the barrel.
What do you do when fear strikes? Do you hesitate? Does the energy and possible greatness that moment had to offer pass you by never to be seen again? Do you get pitched into an oblivion that was avoidable had you just fully engaged and taken the wheel out of fear's hands? Or do you dig with all your might and thrust yourself into life's moving wall of unpredictable waters?
I dug. And dug. And in the next instant I had it! I popped to my feet and dropped into one of creation's most amazing creatures. For the duration of that ride and then some I was charged up with the world that exists beyond fear, where we deactivate the negative effects of alarm clocks, deadlines and credit card debt by going for something that requires taking the extra stroke that penetrates fear and opens the doorway to greatness.
Best of luck with your training for the upcoming season!